College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences

Wild desert plants face viral surprise

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Just as many people battle seasonal colds and flu, native plants face their own viral threats. People have long known that plants can succumb to viruses just like humans. Now, a new study led by Michigan State University and the University of California, Riverside reveals a previously unknown threat: non-native crop viruses are infecting and jeopardizing the health of wild desert plants.

“For years, the ecological field assumed wild plants were immune to invasive viruses that damage crops,” said Carolyn Malmstrom, a professor of plant biology and ecology, evolution, and behavior at MSU and a co-leader of the study. Kerry Mauck, an associate professor and Alfred M. Boyce Endowed Chair in Entomology, was the team leader at UC Riverside and adviser for the lead author Tessa Shates, who was a graduate student in the Mauck Lab.

Link to original article & audioWild desert plants face viral surprise

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